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Information Sources: Grey Literature

This guide will assist you in choosing the best sources for your information needs.

What is Grey Literature?

A scann of the cover of Soren Kierkegaard's university thesis, which is an example of gray literature.Literature that has not been published through traditional means. It is often excluded from large databases and other mainstream sources.

Examples:

  • Unpublished conference papers, theses and dissertations

  • Presentations

  • Working papers

  • Notes and logs kept by researchers

  • Professors' teaching notes, students' lecture notes

  • Company annual reports, Project and study reports

  • Institutional reports, Technical reports

  • Reports put out by government agencies

  • Data and statistics

  • Unpublished letters and manuscripts

  • Patents, technical standards

  • Newsletters

Finding Grey Literature

Grey literature is not easy to find, so expect to have to do quite a bit of searching. With more information being published online, it's become a bit easier.

Government agencies, research institutes, organizations, companies or associations will often have a link to "research" or "publications" on their website.  If the body produces a large quantity of publications, then they might even have a "database" or "institutional repository" available for searching. 

It is helpful if you know which bodies publish in your area of research interest, but if you don't know where to look, you have a few options:

  • Speak with your instructor. They might be able to point you to relevant resources.

  • Speak to a librarian

  • Use Google or Google Scholar. You should be able to find a good amount of grey literature just through keyword searching, especially if you use the advanced search features which allow you to filter to specific website domains.

Grey Literature Tutorial

Western University. (2012, September 4). Grey literature tutorial [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/m9-0ZYnCmAI